Death is never easy and often presents a multitude of questions. This was the case in the death of Tyler Skaggs. The left-handed pitcher passed away on July 1, 2019, at the age of 27. He was a member of the Los Angeles Angels MLB team.
All eyes are on October baseball and which team has the best MLB odds to win World Series, but it is important to reflect on this horrible situation so it will never happen again.
Skaggs played professional baseball from 2012-2019 with the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Angels. His last appearance on the mound came June 29, before he passed on the first day of July.
Tyler Skaggs died from an overdose in Texas. It can be pretty easy to obtain pretty much anything you want with the high profile and money that Skaggs had, but a member of the Los Angeles Angels staff made that easier than ever.
Eric Kay was recently sentenced to 22 years in the death of Tyler Skaggs. He was sentenced on two counts. Skagg’s mother and widow were in attendance, as was the family of Kay, including his son, who gave a statement in front of the court. Kay was originally convicted in February.
Emotions were sky-high throughout the trial, except for Kay’s face. When one of his three sons stepped up to speak to the judge on behalf of his father, that is when the waterworks started for Kay. The entire room seemed to be crying, even Skaggs’ widow, Carli.
“Not only am I grieving the loss of my husband, I’m grieving the loss of myself,” Carli Skaggs said.
The team had been in Texas as they were set to open up a series against the Texas Rangers. Instead, they had to carry out the series with the loss of their teammate, who was found dead on the hotel floor. Skaggs had choked on his vomit, while fentanyl, oxycontin, and forms of alcohol were traced in his body. Prosecutors stated that Kay gave Skaggs fake oxycodone pills that actually contained the lethal fentanyl.
Kay could have tried to battle the Skaggs case, but there was far too much evidence against him. Five MLB players were part of the trial and claimed Kay had given them all oxycodone in the form of pills throughout 2017-2019. Kay both used and distributed these drugs throughout the Angels organization.
There was a 20-year minimum for the crime, but U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means added two additional years. There were recordings of Kay’s phone calls throughout the trial in which he said harsh things about Skaggs and his family.
“All they see are dollar signs,” said Kay over the phone. “They may get more money with him dead than [when] he was playing because he sucked.”
“I’m here because of Tyler Skaggs,” Kay added later on in the call. “Well, he’s dead, so f— him.”
There is a lot of pressure being a professional athlete, and being surrounded by negative influences like Kay does not make it any easier.
“Tyler Skaggs wasn’t a perfect person,” Judge Means said. “But he paid the ultimate price for it.”
The 48-year-old Kay showed remorse for his comments at trial, but it was too late. Judge Means and other people in the court stated that Kay still does not accept responsibility for the situation. Nonetheless, he will serve 22 years in federal prison.
Kay’s Role With the Team
Kay had to have a large role with the Los Angeles Angels in order to distribute drugs like fentanyl, and well, that was the case.
Serving as the team’s public relations contact, Kay travelled nearly every series with the team. Being surrounded by these players for an entire 162-game schedule gave Kay easy access to the players and an opportunity to get to know both the good and bad sides of them. Unfortunately, he exploited players like Skaggs and numerous other Angel players from the past.
Very shortly after Skaggs’ death, Kay was placed on leave, which eventually marked the end of his Major League career. Kay and his team of lawyers campaigned to receive less than 20 years in prison but were denied. He will be 70 when steps foot out of prison.